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Dr. Michael Eric Dyson: Instead of Obama Addressing Black Issues, He Used ‘Escape Hatch’


Georgetown professor and renowned commentator/author, Dr. Micheal Eric Dyson refers to President Barack Obama’s final term as  a “mixed legacy,” regarding the president’s response to issues in the African-American community.

Dyson’s recent book, “The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America,” explores how the president has altered the way he addresses certain issues in the Black community. From the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, to the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, to the controversy over the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Dyson said the president’s response to race will not be considered one of his strong points.

Dyson said in an interview with The Grio, “President Obama will go down as one of the greatest presidents that we’ve ever had. His accomplishments are pretty remarkable…first year, second year,” he said in reference to job growth as well as improvements in healthcare and the automotive industry.

However, Dyson told The Grio that Obama has often been hesitant to address race-related issues. Throughout the president’s eight-year term, he has been scrutinized by political commentators and America for that matter, for playing what some may call the role of “peacemaker.”

During the unrest in Ferguson in 2014, after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, many wondered if Obama was doing enough to address the issue that was baffling the Black community.

Jason Johnson, a politics editor at The Source magazine and a political science professor, said in an MSNBC interview, “What have you done? What have you done President Obama? We still have ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws everywhere. There are all sorts of things that people wanted policy-wise, after the president expressed something personally (after the [Trayvon] Martin incident) that we haven’t seen manifested,” said Johnson.

After the events in Ferguson, many African-Americans were reportedly disappointed by Obama’s reaction. Many times the president has been boxed in the category of being the first Black president and being afraid to call out behavior that directly harms Blacks.

Dyson said Obama has often reminded us that he’s not the president of just Black America, but that he is the “president of Black Americans.”

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